Forest fires in Turkey: tourists evacuated by boat from Bodrum resort

Forest fires in Turkey: tourists evacuated by boat from Bodrum resort

Tourists staying at the Turkish resort town of Bodrum were evacuated and ordered to wait for rescue boats on Saturday evening as new forest fires broke out nearby, local media reported.

Panicked holidaymakers reportedly rushed to the seaside after several hotels in the coastal city were evacuated.

Fires through Turkey have been raging since Wednesday, burning forests and some settlements, and encroaching on villages and tourist destinations. Satellite images show smoke sweeping across vast expanses of land.

The wildfires have spread across the country, including the province of Antalya (also pictured below) about 250 miles from Bodrum. Photos: AP

Two forestry workers died on Saturday, the country’s health minister said, bringing the total number of dead in the fires to six, while hundreds more were injured or suffered health problems.

In the Aegean resort town of Bodrum, coastguard units carried out the rescue operation and authorities called on private boats and yachts to help them.

Bodrum Mayor Ahmet Aras posted videos and updates, and said cleanup efforts continued in the area.

As new fires broke out, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said on Saturday that 91 of 101 fires across the country had been brought under control.

However, neighborhoods affected by the fires in five provinces were declared disaster areas by the country’s emergency and disaster authority.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the city of Manavgat on Saturday, inspecting the damage caused by a helicopter.

He announced that the Turkish government would cover the rent of those affected by the fire and rebuild their homes. Taxes, social security and credit payments will also be deferred for those affected and small businesses will be offered interest-free credit, he said.

Plumes of smoke caused by forest fires can be seen from the sky. Satellite image © 2021 Maxar Technologies
Firefighter extinguishes forest fire near town of Manavgat
Firefighter extinguishes forest fire near town of Manavgat

“There is nothing we can do but wish for God’s mercy on the lives we have lost, but we can replace whatever has been burned,” Erdogan said.

Forest fires are common in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey during the hot, dry summer months.

Mr Erdogan said authorities were investigating the possibility of “sabotage” causing the fires in the country.

Other forest fires have spread to other Mediterranean countries, including Italy and Greece, caused by the worst heat wave in decades in southern Europe, powered by hot air from Africa.

Temperatures in Greece and neighboring countries are expected to climb to 42C (over 107F) on Monday.


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